This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations on 30 June 2020. Global trends impacting on South Africa are also included.
Prepare for worst
As South Africa’s COVID-19 cases surge past the 150 000 mark, with 2 657 deaths, conversations around the pandemic are taking centre stage once again, with many people sharing their experiences of losing loved ones to the lethal virus.
Slovo shared a video of a young lady hospitalised for COVID-19 with serious lung damage: “#RIPPheko this is how dangerous this virus is… Young or old, poor or rich, black or white, it doesn’t care… We need to save life more than what people think of the economy, with taxis now operating at 100% capacity, we must prepare for the worse.” The tweet received 1 900 likes, 744 retweets and the video received over 86 500 views by this morning.
Lona Mbeki shared the story of a friend who contracted COVID-19 and infected his girlfriend, with disastrous consequences: “A good friend of mine contracted COVID-19 two weeks ago, he transmitted the disease to his girlfriend (mother of his child) who then passed it over to her mother and sister. I have just received a call that his girlfriend and her mom passed away. His child is now motherless”. The tweet received over 6 400 likes, 3 500 retweets and 355 comments.
DJ Live shared an image of Pheko, a young male, who lost his life due to COVID-19. The tweet included Pheko’s last tweet in which he described the unbearable pain he was in. The tweet received 5 300 likes, 2 100 retweets and 221 comments. Comments included condolences, warnings that people were not taking COVID-19 seriously, and the fact that everyone now knows someone who is affected by the virus.
Nwabis’oMiya tweeted the death of her mom: “When I received that call from 041 I knew it was time to put my big girl panties on. Having to call my family yesterday to inform them of the news the hospital had just told me was so hard, hay usi qhathile ntombi. RIP MaMiya.” Nwabis’oMiya had earlier tweeted about her mom’s concerns about contracting COVID-19 – she worked as a cleaner at a private hospital treating several COVID-19 cases. The tweet received over 6 400 likes, 1 700 retweets and 1 100 comments.
“What if the world never goes back to normal,” tweeted Pearl Thusi. The tweet received 8 200 likes, 1 600 retweets and 994 comments.
Mmusi Maimane shared an image of the number of schools affected by COVID-19: “Bagaetsho we are now at a serious crossroads. Let’s close the schools before things get even worse. Moving ahead with full reopening at this time is walking into the eye of a cyclone with an umbrella. #safeschools.” The tweet received 1 300 likes, 577 retweets and 232 comments.
The most affected schools are in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.
Daisy Thando tweeted: “Imagine getting this virus because ubuyocrayona! No, grade R must stay home nje!” The tweet questions the need for Grade Rs to return to school to colour in their books at the risk of contracting COVID-19. The tweet received 1 500 likes and 514 retweets.
Lesegoxsikwane scolded people for wearing their masks incorrectly, “mfs wearing their mask on their chin like they gone put it on when they see covid-19 walk thru the door”. The tweet received 3 600 liked and 1 100 retweets.
The steep rise in infections has raised debate around returning to Level 5 lockdown rules.
@EffSouthAfrica called for a return to level 5 in a tweet that received over 2 400 likes and over 1 000 retweets. But many disagreed: “The Eff must go to level 5 alone, food parcels were stolen, people need to make ends meet so they can feed their families”. @ BlessingsRamoba also tweeted a scathing response to the EFF’s call, pointing out that the country could not afford another standstill. His tweet received almost 2 000 likes.
@Lasizwe tweeted : “I think it’s about time we as a country go back to Lockdown LEVEL 5!” The tweet was liked over 6 600 times and retweeted over 1 000 times, but was also met with opposition. One reply to @Lasizwe’s tweet noted: “Lockdown Level 5 serves no purpose anymore. We can’t postpone the inevitable. The infections will sky rocket we have to focus on saving lives and that includes allowing the economy to reopen so people don’t starve to death”. This tweet was liked over 100 times.
Reports that Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was considering another “hard lockdown” were supported in a tweet by @MyLifeAsSne, who noted that it may be the best course of action to protect the wellbeing of healthcare workers. This tweet was liked over 1 000 times and retweeted over 600 times.
@eNCA reported on a study that found that South Africans would be happier if there was no lockdown, even if it resulted in more cases of COVID-19. The video was viewed over 10 000 times, with the tweet being retweeted 76 times and liked over 120 times.
EFF leader @MbuyiseniNdlozi tweeted that Dr Mkhize had yet to release data on how the pandemic affected South Africans by race. The tweet was liked almost 3 000 times, and retweeted almost 800 times.
@KFCSA was called out for allegedly withholding UIF funds for employees.
A tweet by @KamvelihleGoba included a video of protestors and was viewed almost 800 times.
Another tweet which drove volume urged smokers to stop supporting McDonalds, given the fast food chain’s links to President Cyril Ramaphosa, presumably in retaliation to the prolonged ban on the sale of tobacco products.
Race and identity
The Black Lives Matter movement continues to inspire conversations around the nuances of black identity on social media. Yesterday @DoreenGLM retweeted an original post by African-American actor, Terry Crews: “If you are a child of God, you are my brother and sister. I have family of every race, creed and ideology. We must ensure #blacklivesmatter doesn’t morph into #blacklivesbetter”. This tweet received 38 300 retweets and 118 300 likes. @DoreenGLM expressed disapproval over Crews’ stance in her retweet: “Terry Crews is threatened by a world that treats all Black people fairly, because he enjoys the benefits of being the token Black person. So as we fight for equality, he shifts his tactics to reminding white America, that still he stands out. Still, he is their favored token.” This received 2 300 retweets and 5 400 likes.
Conversations around institutionalised racism have dominated social media in recent weeks. Yesterday comedian @CoconutKelz, shared a parody video addressing the culture of racism in South African schools: “You people just need to be grateful instead of disrespecting the bricks. Schools have feelings (black girls don’t)! School reputation > black lives. The real racism is black people being allowed to play sports and being really good. #quotas #racisminsahighschools”. This tweet gained traction with 732 retweets and 1 800 likes.
The word “retweet” came up among the yesterday’s high volume tweets as missing people reports continue to flood Twitter.
In the past 24 hours four missing persons posts with captions like “Retweet for Awareness” of “Kindly retweet” were widely retweeted.
A screenshot of a missing girl shared earlier this week has been retweeted over 4 000 times: “She was last seen in town (Mthatha) yesterday and the friend she was with says that she last saw her in town.” No name, age or detailed description is provided of the missing girl. Replying to @_MavestarSA, who posted the screenshot to Twitter, @BeshKimMcFaku commented that she had been found.
Issued by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change.
See Cabc.org.za for daily reports
A deep analysis on any of these issues is available on request.
The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation. It was established to track and counter mis- and disinformation, fake news and divisive and polarising rhetoric that is promulgated online to undermine social cohesion, democratic integrity, and the stability of nation states.